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DragonAvenger

*NO* Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, CV3 & CV: Curse of Darkness 'Eternity Cut Short'

8 posts in this topic

I remember Andrew working on this one for one of the contests a while back. There's a good mixture of sources here, though I do think some of the transitions are a bit abrupt. That being said, I didn't find it at a level that was too jarring, and overall the flow of the overall track works. Plenty of energy, and a ton of detail went into the backing parts to keep things interesting. 

Listening on headphones I think the organ is a touch loud at times, and could have been dialed back a bit. Otherwise there are some good layerings of synths to make the track clear and poignant. 

Fun that I recognize the part you pulled from this into the Spring Break album. Nice use there :)

Loves you, husbando <3

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What's killing this for me is those transitions. This is filled with transitions that are extremely abrupt.  The three different sources aren't treated the same way, with completely different harmony and percussion, and it's jarring and obvious almost every time you switch between them.  Even transitions within the same source often lack flow the same way.  1:05, 1:20, 1:35, 1:42, 2:17, 2:32, 2:39, 2:54, 3:09, and 3:46 all felt this way to me.

Production-wise, it definitely is loud, but it's not overcompressed that I can hear.  Some sections do get a little crowded--I'm losing the bass in 1:44-1:59, 2:25-2:32 gets muddy with the strings, there's something I'm losing at 3:02 I can barely make out, but they're not egregious.  I also have trouble with the cymbals, which are buried more often than not, but again it doesn't break the mix.

I can see this passing, since I'm more of a curmudgeon about abrupt transitions than most of the other judges, but they're a no-sale for me.

NO

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Taken section by section, I actually like this a lot. The guitar is great, the synth work is generally solid and the soundscape is nice and full. I do hear considerable crowding in the production (especially in more crowded sections, like toward the end), which would likely throw me to a borderline pass at best on this, all else being equal. However, I think MindWanderer's commentary on the jarring nature of the transitions are a more significant issue: it sounds like a lot of great ideas were just sewn together to make up a montage of tracks that lasts roughly five minutes.

Individually I think there is a whole lot to like in each part; hell, if this were a preview for an upcoming album and each section was a different track on it I'd be excited to hear the album in it's entirety. As a track, though, the form makes little sense, and the sudden transitions from part to part doesn't create any sense of flow. I'm afraid I've got to go with MW on this one.

NO

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Somewhat good level of clarity for this mix, considering the amount of content crammed in here. Lots of layered work in each section, this helps in greatly varying up the overall sound, strengthening the uniqueness of each area while tying things back for that needed cohesion by retaining layers from previous sections. There are times where things get a bit too busy causing the listener to lose track of what they should be focusing on. Some sections could do with less parts to make the overall mix less chaotic, instead of keeping the same pace from beginning to end. I'm all for chaos provided it's done well, and this leans towards that end of the spectrum for me personally. It actually caused me to miss the abrupt changes that the others have mentioned here, which I do acknowledge after a couple of listens. My main concern with the arrangement was more to do with the fact that there isn't much in the way of a break down and build up in the mix to give the listener a rest. I think that this would add greatly to the overall track as the power and heavy hitting nature of things gets lost when it goes for too long. There were also some small things I didn't like about the mixing, like the synth lead being a little too loud compared to the rest of the mix, but overall nothing here is overly bad to detract from the presentation here.

YES

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Nice and heavy intro with CoD's "Abandoned Castle." Not feeling the instrumentation at :35; not sure why the synth piano-lead sounds flat, but it's in uncanny valley territory, i.e. the tone sounds good, but the articulations sound rigid. The backing bowed strings also felt the same way; not totally exposed, but still a stiff, uncanny valley sound. The mixing was also cluttered, but reasonably solid. In the grand scheme of things, none of that meaningfully dings the track on a production level.

I can see the argument about the change of themes at 1:05 feeling disjointed, but IMO that's only because you know the themes are different. A 1:04, the theme change had a quick transition sound and flowed together just fine and had I not known there were multiple sources, I could have believed it was structurally from one composition in the Castlevania series.

On the flip side, something with the chorus writing from 1:20-1:34 also sounded flat; I'm not saying to slavishly hold to the melody as it sounded in the source, but that was melodious while this didn't present any contrast from the verse before it with the tone of the synth.

Really flat transition to CoD's "Abandoned Castle" chorus at 1:34; that was a chance for some dynamic contrast, and it just didn't happen. That change DID feel abrupt. As it quickly moved onto focusing on that theme, there was some great energy with the treatment of Castlevania III's "Beginning" from 1:44. Much like how I thought the transition at 1:04 worked, the shift back to CoD's "Abandoned Castle" at 2:16 was also seamless. But then you have transition spots like 2:30, 2:37 (I'll live on that one), 2:53 & 3:06 in pretty close succession that all felt very jumpy. I did enjoy the subtle source tune interplay after 3:06, and the energy of the final section and the close were great.

I'm one of the more permissive judges when it comes to transitions, so I was expecting to roll on the YES side, but I'm with the NOs that there are too many jumpy transitions where the flow of the piece felt disjointed; it's definitely not just from recognizing which themes are which, as we have multi-source medleys with lots of theme changes that click better than this. I hope Andrew would be willing to take another look at this to see how to have this flow together more, since the performance and production are strong.

NO (resubmit)

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I'm listening to this without hearing the sources first, to see if it sounds cohesive, and to me it does.  The transitions don't bother me too much, it is an interesting and varied arrangement.  I agree with Jivemaster that the mix is surprisingly clear considering the amount of parts in each section.  The master is so loud though, and starting at 0:36 it sounds very overcompressed to me, and that lead is way too loud, especially in the mid-lows.  I'm going to ask for one more pass at the mixing/mastering to get it sounding clear without sounding so compressed, otherwise I dig it.

NO (resubmit please)

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First off, I'm in agreement on the loudness on the mastering.  This track is pushing the levels pretty hard and does suffer (though not to a major degree) from overcompression and loss of clarity as a result.  It's not a big enough issue from me to NO in and of itself, but simply dropping the volume to a bit more reasonable level should be an easy fix.

Instruments like strings(?) at :36 sound really shrill, probably because the tone is getting crowded by other elements that are vying for space.  The piano there is quite loud, but still has a mid-heavy tone.  Probably could drop volume and bit and scoop some of the mids and boost some highs to let it cut without having to take up so much space and be so loud to be audible.

I didn't find the transitions as much of an issue as some of the others.  I intentionally listened to this prior to listening to the sources as I wanted to gauge the song's cohesiveness without knowing where one source ends and the next begins.  There are a few places where they were a little weak and some others that were more abrupt, but it never felt like it pulled me out of the track.  There is room for improvement here for sure (and I know you can do it, Andrew, you're a boss at arrangement :) )

On the positive side, there's loads of excellent writing and performances on showcase here.  The song grabs the listener right off the bat and stays interesting throughout.  I think with tweaks to levels and some transition adjustments this is an easy pass.

NO (borderline) resubmit

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